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Emotional Blog Series #6: Jealousy and Concern for your relationship

11 Sep

In our series on negative emotions we are looking at the unhealthy negative emotion of Jealousy  that are mainly provoked by holding  unhealthy beliefs or attitudes (demands) about the threat by another person to a relationship that is important to us.  Relationships we may experience the feeling of Jealousy about are not just the romantic ones.  We can feel jealousy about threats to other relationships too, close friends, family members for example. This blog will look at jealousy in romantic relationships.

Jealousy is an unhealthy emotion

Its healthy negative emotional counterpart is Concern for one’s relationship, rather unwieldy but there is not a more appropriate term in the English language.

Jealousy, in effect, involves three people so there is a triangular relationship and it is a defining characteristic of jealousy; there is, you, a person who is important to you with whom you are in some kind of relationship and thirdly another person who you perceive is a threat.

When you are unhealthily jealous you tend to imagine that your partner is interested in another person and twist any information to absolute beliefs even when there is no real evidence.

How do you know if you are jealousy or have healthy concern for you relationship?

Jealousy is a highly destructive emotion.  You might experience jealousy if you see your partner paying attention to someone else or if you feel you are not being paid enough attention. When you feel jealous, you tend to behave in a possessive manner, looking and finding signs of infidelity (or of love interest) by your partner.  It is destructive because the pain and misery is not just felt by the sufferer of jealousy but by the partner too.    If you feel jealous you tend to monitor and check your partner; checking text messages, emails, letters, aftershave/perfume, underwear, questioning your partner and so on.   A lot of the time your mind is preoccupied with thoughts of infidelity wondering if your partner is committing it or thinking about it. With the constant vigilance over your partner’s behaviour, it is more than probable that you are also experiencing intense anxiety for much of your time.  Even when you are in the company of your partner, the vigilance is apparent as you look for signs of the threat when out socialising together.  You may remain preoccupied with it mentally even you get home or you may start quizzing or accusing your partner.

If you experience jealousy you may hold a belief that you can only feel “worthwhile” if you are the centre and object of your partner’s love interest.  This means that your worth is dependent on your partner’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour towards you.  Unfortunately, this is out of your control and it is important to care but no so that your life and worth depends on it.

When you experience concern for your relationship you do not confabulate stories in your mind about their infidelity and imagine they will leave you or prefer the other person.  You accept the fact that your partner may well find someone else interesting or attractive, you are not threatened by this as you hold beliefs of self acceptance and worth and you are able to conduct yourself assertively and communicate effectively with your partner.

Tips

  • Accept the things that are within your control and the things that are not.  You can control what you believe and what you do.  You are not in control of what your partner thinks, feels, imagines or does.
  • Accept yourself unconditionally.  Your worth does not depend on anyone or on anything.
  • Get involved yourself in activities that you enjoy and build your own pleasure in life rather than making your life completely about your partner.
  • Express your feelings of concern rather than interrogating your partner.

Back to School Worries

5 Sep

As the summer holidays draw to a close, it may not be the lack of sunshine that is in the forefront of many parents’ minds. After such a long break from the normal routine of attending school, many children can find the prospect of returning to school very daunting. There are lots of things to think about, such as, what will my new school be like, will I make some new friends, will my lessons be hard, will I be left out? These sorts of concerns can cause a great deal of anxiety.

Back to School can be stressful

Parents can also dread the start of the new term, if they anticipate their child will experience anxiety and distress. Fortunately for most children, once over the hurdle of getting through the school gates, the excitement of new friends, teachers and subjects takes over and they quickly settle down and enjoy the familiarity of school routines.

However, this is not always the case, as for some children, the anxiety can persist past the school gate, leading to psychosomatic symptoms or acting out behaviours. These can include feeling ill in the mornings and sleep problems, and if the anxiety problems are not resolved, the child may refuse to attend school.

To prevent an outright refusal to go to school, it is helpful for parents to talk with their child about their worries so they feel safe and secure. It is important to talk about school in a light and fun way, encouraging the child to talk about their thoughts and feelings, so any issues can be resolved quickly.

There are some simple but effective ways of allaying their anxiety such as:

  • When dropping children at school, parents should smile, hug, kiss and wave goodbye. It is important to create a light and positive atmosphere, so the child picks up on this instead of anxiety.
  • When shopping  for school supplies, take the opportunity to chat about school in a healthy, relaxed and fun way.
  • Make sure there is enough time in the morning to get your child to school in a calm fashion without rushing and shouting.
  • Let younger children know in advance what is happening. Nobody likes the unknown and  the anxious child struggles with it even more so. Surprises can be very hard to cope with when you are already in a state of anxiety.
  • Try to meet at the school gate with a fellow student so the child has company.
  • With a younger child, ensure they know where to look for you at the end of the day and make sure you are not late.

As we said earlier, most children quickly settle back to school without any major problems, but a child who becomes very withdrawn or experiences loss of appetite and lethargy may be experiencing depression. Any dramatic change in mood and behaviour, that does not seem to be diminishing as the term progresses, should be seen as a sign and it may be necessary to seek advice from a professional.

Emotional Blog Series #5: Hurt and Disappointment

23 Aug

Another common emotion we have all experienced and experience from time to time is hurt.  Hurt is an unhealthy negative emotion provoked by holding an unhealthy belief about being treated badly, let down or betrayed by someone (and you think you do not deserve such treatment).  It can also be provoked by unhealthy belief about someone who appears to hold your relationship less dearly than you thought.  Disappointment is the healthy version of hurt and is provoked by holding a healthy belief about being treated badly, let down or betrayed.

Disappointment is the healthy version of hurt

You feel hurt or disappointment when you have an emotional connection to another person.  They can be felt within different relationships such as family, friendships, intimate, special interest group and work relationships.  They are emotions associated with lack of care.  It is less common to experience hurt or disappointment towards a stranger.

When you feel hurt, you tend to exaggerate the unfairness of the other person’s behaviour towards you and you think the other person doesn’t care about you.  You will see you yourself as someone who is uncared for and you will recall other times when you have been hurt.  Your mind will also be focused on how the other person should put things instead of you.  As a result, you will tend to sulk and shut down communication as well as criticise the other person without telling them that feel hurt.

Disappointment is the healthy version of hurt.  When you feel disappointment, you will be more realistic in your judgement about the other person’s behaviour.  You won’t automatically jump to the conclusion that you are uncared for.  You will tend to judge the insensitive behaviour rather than personalise it.  You won’t see yourself as alone and uncared for and you won’t think of other times when you have been hurt.  You will explain to the other person how you feel and won’t shut down communication and criticise them unnecessarily.  So the mind set and behaviours that trigger disappointment are more balanced, realistic and assertive.

An emotion often associated with hurt is anger.  This combination is known is Anger-Hurt.  Hurt is directed towards the self because the person thinks they are alone and uncared for and anger is directed towards the other person and the other person is damned as bad.  The anger emotion is the most obvious and the most expressed emotion out of the two.  Hurt tends to be held under the surface emotion of anger.

 

Tips

  1. Take responsibility for your emotions and explain how you feel but do not make the other person the cause of your feelings.  Use expressions like ‘I felt hurt when you ignored me’ rather than ‘you hurt me when you when ignored me’.
  2. Ask but do not demand change from the other person.
  3. Do not pay the other person back by being overly critical about other things they are doing.  Express your feelings in a balanced way.
  4. Focus on the incident that you felt most hurt about and refrain from bringing past hurts into the same conversation.

Emotion Blog Series #4: Guilt and Remorse

2 Aug

Guilt is an unhealthy emotion

Guilt is the fourth unhealthy negative emotion in our Emotions series.  We experience guilt when we hold unhealthy beliefs about transgressing our own moral code, do not live up to our moral code or hurting the feelings of a significant other.

 

Guilt is mostly created by the rigidly held beliefs that you “absolutely shouldn’t have” thought or done something or that you “absolutely should have” done something.

For example, you may believe “I have done something morally wrong and I absolutely should not have done that wrongdoing and I am a bad person for doing that”

You can feel guilt about many things.  You may feel guilty about being depressed believing “I shouldn’t be depressed, it’s wrong to feel this way when I have so much, I should be grateful for what I have”.  This belief would lead to the self damning belief “I am a bad person” which perpetuates the cycle of guilt and depression.  You may experience guilt about some behaviour, for example infidelity, telling lies, getting unhealthily angry with a loved one, keeping secrets and so on.

 

Remorse is the healthy negative emotion that partners guilt, which occurs when you hold healthy or rational beliefs about breaking your own moral standards or about hurting the feelings of a significant other. For example, a healthy belief would be “I have broken my moral code and I wish I hadn’t done that wrongdoing and I accept that I have done something I perceive as morally wrong. I accept myself as a worthwhile and fallible human being even though I have done something wrong.  I will make amends and ask for forgiveness for what I have done.”

 

How do you know if you are guilty or remorseful?

When you think you are guilty you believe you have committed the sin and you tend to take all the responsibility for the transgression and tend not to think others have any responsibility.  For example, imagine you had promised to record your best friend’s favourite programme whilst she was away on a business trip and you failed to do so.  If you hold an unhealthy belief that, “I absolutely should always do what I am say I am going to do” you will disturb yourself over this failure to act in accordance with this belief.   You may tend to over apologise or compensate by buying a disproportionately extravagant gift to make amends or you may try to avoid contact with your friend.

If you held the healthy belief that” I strongly prefer to act in accordance with what I say I am going to do but I don’t absolutely have to” then you will experience remorse and will more than likely apologise  for your failure to your friend without begging for forgiveness.

When we experience guilt we also believe we will be punished in some way for that sin.

To escape the pain of guilt we try and escape the feeling in self defeating ways, avoiding situations or people so you are not confronted by your feeling of guilt, you may use alcohol or recreational drugs to suppress the feelings

When we feel guilty we may feel like begging for forgiveness and agreeing to never commit the sin again, we may even feel like punishing ourselves taking physical penance or by acts of deprivation.

If you are experiencing the healthy negative emotion of remorse you will be able to think of your behaviour in context, with an understanding and self acceptance as a “fallible human being”.  With remorse you do not think there will be some kind of retribution for your sin and you are able to keep perspective and recognise your responsibility as well as others in the given situation.

When feeling remorseful you make appropriate amends for your poor behaviour without making excuses and face up to the healthy discomfort.  Instead of begging for forgiveness as in guilt you ask for forgiveness and have no desire to punish yourself or become defensive about your actions.

 

TIPS

  • Become and remain aware of your values and the moral code you wish to apply to your life but don’t hold your values rigidly.  No one is perfect.
  • Take responsibility for your actions and acknowledge any transgression and then ask for forgiveness, make amends and learn from it.

 

If asking for forgiveness or making amends is no longer an option, then forgive yourself and accept that you are a fallible human being who has made a mistake.  Learn from it.

Emotion Blog Series #3: Anger and Annoyance

19 Jul

Unhealthy Anger is an unhealthy negative emotion provoked by holding an unhealthy belief or attitude about  i) you or another breaking your non moral rule  or ii) a threat to your self esteem or  iii) you experiencing frustration.

Healthy Anger or Annoyance is a healthy negative emotion provoked by holding a belief or attitude about i) you or another breaking your non moral rule or ii) a threat to your self esteem or iii) you experiencing frustration.

Anger is an unhealthy emotion but a natural one. Annoyance is a healthy anger

Anger is a common emotion and we all experience it.  There are two types though; healthy and unhealthy.  In this blog we will use the Anger to mean unhealthy Anger and Annoyance to mean healthy Anger

Both Anger and Annoyance can be intense.  You can feel Anger or Annoyance with yourself, with another person or with life and the world. 

You can feel Anger or Annoyance about all sorts of things.  The following are typical triggers.   This is by no means a complete list of triggers.

  • Rejection
  • Unfairness
  • Disagreement
  • Lateness
  • Rudeness
  • Criticism
  • Failure
  • Insensitivity
  • Hassles e.g. traffic jams, weather etc
  • Having an emotional problem
  • And so on

 

How do you know if you are feeling Anger or Annoyance?

The easiest way to understand your emotions is to check your thoughts and your behaviour or behavioural tendencies when feeling the emotion. 

When you feel Anger towards someone you will tend to exaggerate the actions of the other person, who has broken your personal rule.  You will think that the other person had malicious intent.  You will think that you are absolutely right and the other person is definitely wrong and you will not see the other person’s point of view at all.  You mind will be focused on revenge.

When you feel Anger towards you will like attacking the other persona physically or verbally.  You will feel like paying them back e.g. ignoring them or staying silent.  You will feel like recruiting allies against the other person.  Apart from feeling like doing all of these things, sometimes you will actually do them.

If you are feeling Anger with yourself you will tend to be extremely hard on yourself, call yourself ‘idiot’, ‘stupid’ and other self damning words.  You will feel like punishing yourself or you will indeed punish yourself.

If feeling Anger due to life frustrations then you will feel high levels of frustrations, be damning of the life and situations or God.  You may feel like taking your frustration on furniture, dashboard of your car.

When you feel Annoyance with someone your thoughts will be more balanced and you are less likely to see malicious intent behind someone’s actions.  You will be more open to the possibility that you may be wrong, able to listen to the other person’s point of view.  You mind will not be pre occupied with seeking revenge.

When feeling Annoyance you will feel like talking and behaving assertively but it will be with the right intent of solving the conflict.  You will feel like asking the other person to make changes to their behaviour but you do not demand it. 

When you feel Annoyed with yourself you thoughts will be focused on the wrong thing that you did but without damning yourself.  Your mind set will be accepting of the fact that some mistake was made but you also see yourself as an imperfect person who will learn and move on.

If you are feeling Annoyance with life’s hassles, your mind set will be accepting of the fact that there are hassles and frustrations in life but you also think that you can cope with it even though it is a pain in the backside.

 

Tips

Accept yourself as fallible and imperfect.

Accept that other’s as fallible and imperfect.

Accept that hassles and frustrations exist and are part of life and that you can cope with them even though you find them challenging.

Emotion Blog Series #2: Depression and Sadness

5 Jul

Depression is the second emotion we are looking at in our series on Emotions, there are eight altogether along with their “healthy counterparts” that are identified in the Ellis Model of RECBT.

Depression: An unhealthy negative emotion

Depression (an unhealthy negative emotion) is mostly provoked by holding unhealthy beliefs or attitudes (Demands) about loss or failure.

Its healthy counterpart is Sadness and occurs when we hold a healthy belief or attitude about loss or failure.

Depression is an unhealthy negative emotion and we can be depressed about many things.  Some examples are:

 

  • Loss or failure of job
  • Loss or failure of relationship
  • Death
  • Loss of freedom
  • Loss of control
  • Failure of success

               

How do you know if you are depressed or sad?

Depression is experienced by many people in a life time usually in reaction to external circumstances and it has a distinctive thought and behaviour pattern that we can identify.   When you feel depressed your thoughts become preoccupied with negative experiences and are unable to find the good or positive about anything in life. Thoughts have a historical focus with a tendency to remember old past losses or failures and rumination becomes more and more part of your thought processes.  If you are experiencing Depression you tend think you are a failure as a person and that in the future there is no hope so a pervading sense of helplessness and hopelessness is experienced. 

When you are depressed you feel like avoiding the world and the people in it, withdrawing into your head rather than going out; you pull away from people and life in general.   You may not feel like getting out of bed or going to work or meeting your friends.  Looking after yourself or your surroundings becomes unimportant.  When you are feeling depressed you are not interested in looking after yourself and, in severe depression, not bothering to wash or get dressed. You don’t feel like washing up or hoovering, tidying may become a thing of the past.   

When you are depressed you have a tendency to behave in destructive ways to try and avoid the feeling of depression.  It can lead to over eating or under eating, using alcohol or drugs to excess to avoid those feelings.

The thoughts experienced when feeing sadness, in contrast to depression, are more balanced.  You are able to think about both positive and negative aspects of the loss or failure. When you are experiencing sadness your thoughts do not remain focused in the past and previous failures instead you think that you will be able to deal with the current loss appropriately.  The thoughts of helplessness and beliefs that you are failure are not present in sadness.  Your thoughts are helpful and hopeful.

When you are sad you will tend to share your feelings and express what is happening to those around you.  You remain able to look after yourself and your environment recognising you have experienced a loss or failure and take constructive and helpful actions to support yourself through the experience.

If you recognise the thoughts and behavioural patterns of depression consider the changes that would support experiencing healthy sadness and begin to think and act in accordance with them. For example, if you are thinking everything is hopeless, recognise you are thinking this and you can begin to challenge that thought as you check reality and begin to recognise not everything is hopeless and continue to challenge your thoughts consistently, even if you don’t feel like it.  If getting out of bed and getting out of the house is your problem set yourself small achievable goals, like getting out of bed and taking a shower, eat something healthy, and do them consistently.

It will feel uncomfortable to start with but each day it gets easier, just as the same as when you learnt how to ride a bicycle, tie your shoes or make eggs for the first time.

Tips

1)      Make some goals

2)      Identify and take some immediate action to make your goals happen.

3)      Identify the regular actions to make the goals happen and do them.

4)      Stop telling yourself you are “Rubbish or the world is”

5)       Remember “you matter” and you are part of the human race which is fallible and chemically amazing at the same time.

6)      We generally think ourselves into misery, begin to change the way you think – unhealthy thoughts are normally rigid/illogical/inconsistent with reality and unhelpful healthy thoughts are – flexible, logical, consistent with reality and helpful

7)      Seek help if you continue to feel miserable.

 

Emotion Blog Series #1: Anxiety and Concern

27 Jun

Anxiety is an unhealthy negative emotion provoked by holding an unhealthy belief or attitude about a real or perceived threat or danger to yourself, or to all that you value as significant to you.

Concern is the healthy version of anxiety.  Concern is a healthy negative emotion provoked by holding a healthy belief or attitude about real or perceived threat or danger to yourself, or to all that you value as significant to you.

anxiety

Anxiety is an unhealthy negative emotion

You can be anxious or concerned about many things.  Commonly people can be anxious or concerned about:

  • Success and failure
  • Approval
  • Criticism
  • Negative judgement
  • Making mistakes
  • Achievements
  • Anxiety itself
  • Emotional problems
  • Things not be just so i.e. perfectionism
  • Disorganisation
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Death
  • And so on

How do you know if you are anxious or concerned?

When you feel anxious you will tend to exaggerate the overall effect of the threat or risk.  You will think terrible things will happen.  You also think that you won’t be able handle and deal with the bad thing if it was to happen.  For example, you will think that you won’t be able to handle failure.  You will tend to see the glass as half empty so your thoughts will be pessimistic focusing on the negatives.  Your thoughts will also be unhelpful to you and you will not be thinking in a constructive way.

When you are anxious you feel like avoiding and running away from the threat.  So if you are anxious about negative judgement, you may feel like avoiding doing anything that puts you at the risk of being negatively judged.  You will also feel like running away from the threat mentally by, for example, keeping yourself extra busy so you don’t have to think about what you are worried about.  You will also know if you are anxious because you may be doing superstitious things to get rid of what you are anxious about.   When you feel anxious you are more likely to get rid of the feelings by drinking too much, or medicating yourself in other ways.  Another sign of anxiety is assurance seeking, checking and asking people ‘do you think everything will be OK?’

If you are in a state of concern, the healthy version of anxiety, then you will tend to think in a more realistic way, keeping the effect of the danger or threat in perspective and you will have a balanced view about your ability to handle the problem if it was to happen.  You thoughts will be more solution focused and helpful.

In a state of concern you will tend to face what you are concerned about as opposed to avoiding it.  You will not be seeking constant assurance from others.

Think about what you deem as a risk or a threat and work out from the above explanation if you are anxious or concerned about it.

If you deem that you feel anxiety about some threats then mirror the concern attitude and behave in accordance with the behavioural tendencies of concern.  Repeat them until your notice an emotional shift.  This will feel uncomfortable and unusual at first.  This will means making your thinking realistic and letting go of avoidant behaviour.